Thursday, 1 August 2013

Annual cost of UK brain disorders estimated at £122 billion

Disorders of the brain, including dementia, stroke and mental health issues, cost the UK around £112 billion a year, according to a new report.

These costs include direct medical costs as well as indirect costs such as lost productivity due to absence form work or early retirement.

The research, led by scientists from the University of Hertfordshire, University of Cambridge and Imperial College, is the most recent and comprehensive study conducted on the costs and prevalence of brain disorders in the UK.

The study reveals the extremely high burden and cost that brain disorders have on the UK economy – largely as a result of the impact on lost productivity, rather than the direct costs of medical or social care.  But the estimated cost of £112 billion for UK brain disorders in 2010 is considered to be conservative because of the limitations in data for some of the disorders which were not included.

With the aging population, the prevalence and costs of UK brain disorders Is likely to continue to increase.  This will put greater pressures on the NHS and social services, especially the costs of institutionalised care such as specialised care homes dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The cost of dementia on the social care system is much higher than that for cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke put together.  But despite UK government recommendations saying that health research priorities should be informed by impact of the disease on the population and economy, research funding into brain disorders is much lower than that for cancer.  The researchers are advocating a change to how funding is allocated which is more closely linked to the economic burden of the disease.

The paper “The Size, Burden and Cost of Disorders of the Brain in the UK” is published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.  The work was supported by the British association for Psychopharmacology, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the European Brain Council and the Wellcome Trust.

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